Cancun Nightlife

Dining and nightlife keep getting better at new hot spots and old favorites By: Maribeth Mellin
Wine tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun // © 2011 the Ritz-Carlton/Ben Fink
Wine tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun // © 2011 the Ritz-Carlton/Ben Fink

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The Details

Chef Cristian Morales Cocina de Autor

Coco Bongo

El Rincon del Vino


Fred's House & Seafood Market

La Habichuela Sunset

Los Cuatro Elementos


The Ritz-Carlton Cancun
998-881- 0808

The Little Mexican Cooking School

No vacation is complete Without A few outstanding nights out on the town. And no place shines after dark like Cancun. Clubs like The City host the globe's hottest D.J.s and performers. Discos such as the always-hot Dady'O and the cool new Mandala throb with action until dawn, while Latin jazz accompanies tapas in downtown haunts like El Rincon del Vino.
Dining is equally exciting, with new restaurants popping up downtown and new chefs shaking up established spots in the Hotel Zone. Whether your clients prefer romantic evenings or full-on party time, they'll be happy with the latest dining and nightlife that Cancun has to offer.

Restaurant Happenings
Dining at Chef Cristian Morales Cocina de Autor, in downtown Cancun, includes far more than a good meal. Argentine chef Morales has assembled all the ingredients to please the senses at his elegant new restaurant. The dining space seats just 38 guests at lunch and dinner, with the chef filling the roles of host, sommelier and kitchen wizard. His dishes incorporate pre-Hispanic ingredients and Mexican recipes in deliciously unusual presentations. Earthy brown, truffle-like huitlacoche appears in ravioli, suckling pig comes with chaya chimichurri and Caribbean lobster makes the risotto extra special. Clients can opt for the tasting menu or ask the chef to suggest a perfect combination of flavors that suits their palates. Reservations are a must.

In the Hotel Zone, the new Fred's House & Seafood Market is garnering raves for its appetizers, especially the ceviche and salads. La Habichuela Sunset brings the flavors of downtown's most romantic restaurant to the Hotel Zone in a spectacular fashion. The restaurant resembles a Maya museum with reproductions of famed carvings set amid palms; reserve a lagoon-side table at sunset for your clients -- and make sure they order the coconut shrimp.

Sipping Sensations
Mexican wines are finally gaining respect in the international wine community, and a few restaurants are offering wine tastings. Vintages from boutique wineries with limited productions are featured in tastings at The Ritz-Carlton Cancun's Club Grill, where clients can sample six exceptional wines including the superb Don Luis Cetto Viognier (running about $170 per bottle if you can find it). The wine tasting costs $65 per person. Your clients can also combine an education in Mexican wines during a five-course dinner paired with wines and culinary demonstrations by Chef Rory Dunaway at the new Chef's Table in The Ritz-Carlton's Culinary Center; the cost is $125 per person.

After Midnight
Never content with just being the largest nightclub in the Hotel Zone, The City has now opened Mandala. More refined than its neighbors and smaller than other area clubs, Mandala has a Hindu theme, and statues of deities overlook the dance floor. The crowd is stylish and locals gather here after midnight. On a wilder note, Coco Bongo now features a colorful Lady Gaga show.

Downtown also has many more intimate clubs. Guitarists play in the background at El Rincon del Vino, the favorite haunt for clients looking to converse over fine wines and moderately priced tapas. Nearby, at great budget-priced Xbalamque Hotel, Spanish guitarists start playing after 9 p.m. at the bohemian-style Los Cuatro Elementos. This tiny club keeps getting more popular; have your clients arrive before nine to claim a table.

DIY Dining
Should your clients prefer a hands-on approach to dining, send them to The Little Mexican Cooking School in Puerto Morelos. Several ex-pats and locals who fell in love with Puerto Morelos have created this gem where students learn to assemble an authentic comida fuerte, a multicourse Mexican lunch. The menus change with the seasons; current selections include Yucatecan cochinita pibil, a savory yummy pork dish. Devoted foodie clients can spend a week or more in the two guest suites above the school and join chefs as they shop in village and city markets and bargain with fishermen at the pier.
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